An independent review into the Grenfell tragedy, in June 2017, called for a “golden thread of information” to extend fire safety best practice beyond just fire professionals and into wider society. This recommendation aims to establish a strong industry data chain from architects and fire engineers to building safety managers and end-users.
The Government’s Building a Safer Future report, carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt, calls out a “lack of an audit trail as to whether essential safety work was carried out on the Ledbury Estate” and describes the construction industry’s information process as “lacking any sort of transparency.” It also calls for change that will ensure significant increases in productivity and a reduction in ongoing costs.
Ultimately, the Government’s ‘golden thread of information’ aims to make it easier to relay key messages and arm end-users with the information that they need. But it needs to begin with getting the basics right. It’s vital for businesses to ensure better transparency and accountability throughout their communication processes. And instilling this from the start of a project through to its conclusion and beyond will ensure better buildings and more accountable businesses.
Judith was a recent guest on our ‘Changing Construction’ podcast and when discussing the need for the ‘golden thread’, an example she gave particularly resonated: “If you had a car manufacturer saying we've used a faulty part in our cars, but we don’t know which cars we've used it in and we don’t know which models we've sold to who, there would be public outrage because people would know they'd been put at risk because of that lack of traceability. Why is it any different in building houses for people to live in?”
Instilling email as the foundation
The first step in this process is to ensure that project information is easily discoverable, as and when employees require access to it. And, given the vast majority of project correspondence resides within businesses’ email systems, from project agreements and scope changes to complaints and contracts, it makes sense to establish email as the foundation of the golden thread of information.
Email’s ongoing prevalence is shown by up to three-quarters of all project data being stored within email systems, and it is the preferred communication of 62.8% of business professionals, according to 99Firms research. As a result, the average office worker receives 121 emails every day - that’s one email every 12 minutes - according to DMR insight. While Statista data shows that 320 billion emails will be sent every day by 2021.
Trying to find specific data within this mass of email communication is a difficult task that increases in complexity upon the completion of projects and as people move on from the company. And this isn’t helped by businesses not having the tools in place that enable them to discover and unlock the information.
Businesses also continue to suffer a human error issue, whereby employees fail to file correspondence consistently or correctly. This runs the risk of important or sensitive information being hidden within their inboxes or getting lost completely. As a result, employees end up wasting time searching for the information they need to complete a client request or the document they need for an important meeting.
Make your data discoverable
To address these issues and pave the way for enabling a golden thread of information, businesses need to ensure that important project data is stored in one central location that is easily accessible and provides simple search capabilities.
At Mail Manager, we provide a Prompt and Predict capability to email that enables businesses to improve their data and file management processes. The Outlook add-in not only files emails from SharePoint and other common storage services, but also learns employees’ filing behaviours across project teams. Its AI engine is then able to predict where each email should be filed and ensure it is stored in the most appropriate location. This eliminates the risk of human error leading to incorrect email filing or seeing important project data deleted forever.
Sweco finds email search success
A great example of this is Swedish architecture and engineering consulting firm Sweco, which was seeing its staff wasting vast amounts of time searching for information. By implementing Mail Manager, the firm’s employees are now able to find emails quickly and easily as messages are stored in the project folder rather than individual inboxes.
This helps the business find emails from so long ago that people can’t remember them being sent. It is able to find out which version of documents was sent to a client and which people were included on the email. Mail Manager also helps Sweco to find all correspondence is available to staff, even when the people involved have left the business or moved to another department within the organisation.
Sweco team manager Martin Holmstedt said: “For most companies, as soon as a person leaves an organisation the emails and inbox leave with them. And that is the biggest problem with email today. But using Mail Manager, I can always find what I am looking for very quickly using the specific filters.”
Weave the golden thread of information
The Government’s plan to shake-up information management processes may be ambitious but it’s vital that businesses are able to find the project information they need when they need it. They need to address the issues afflicting their daily email and data management and get the foundations in place to ensure transparency that will enable a golden thread of information.